LONDON – The Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on North Korea rejected the possibility of cutting British aid to the DPRK at a meeting in the House of Lords on Tuesday morning.
Despite a North Korean defector’s suggestion that aid helped the regime survive the famine in the 1990s, Lord Alton of Liverpool told NK News that he “very emphatically disagree(d) that food should be used as a weapon of war.”
“I do not believe that you starve people into submission,” he said, “even though the regime might have siphoned off some of the food we know some of the food also reached ordinary people.
“The challenge is to put pressure on the regime to ensure that we follow in food aid… to ensure food aid reaches its proper destination. Other forms of aid are another matter.”
Lord Alton also said he was pushing the BBC World Service to set up an arm to broadcast to the Korean Peninsula, but said that South Korean laws prohibiting foreign media organizations broadcasting from the ROK would make it difficult.
He also argued that he hoped a judicial process to try North Korean leaders would follow the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in North Korea and that “rule of law is the best way, not aerial bombardment.”
Lord Alton’s statement came after a meeting of the APPG on North Korea to hear testimony from defectors from the DPRK, one of whom told the group that the closest the North Korean government came to falling in recent years was during the famine of the 1990s.
The defector, who was unnamed, argued that not enough pressure had been put on the DPRK during those years and that “aid gave confidence to regime to be more brutal.”
Present at the meeting was Kim Young-soon, formerly a well-known dancer and friend of Kim Jong Il’s wife who was imprisoned in the Yodok concentration camp in 1970 after learning of Kim Jong Il’s extramarital affair with actress Sung Hye Rim and telling a close friend. She defected in 2001.
She told the committee how she lost her parents and son in Yodok, and said she saw “piles of dead bodies every day” and called for stronger European pressure on the North.
Also present at the meeting was a former South Korean intelligence officer who worked with North Korea, who said that “education is the most problematic aspect” when it came to North Korea, arguing that “the potential of North Korean education is to nurture suicide terrorists”.
“Bringing the gospel to North Korea is also important,” he added, prompting a loud “amen” from the group, and he argued that the complexity of the Korean situation suggested the “spirit of God” was involved.
The event was attended by representatives of numerous Christian organizations, including Christian Solidarity Worldwide, and Lord Alton is a trustee of the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology in North Korea, an organization which describes itself as “unabashedly Christian” and has links to evangelical group NAFEC.
Main picture: Eric Lafforgue